By Yusuf Alli, Abuja and Tony Akowe, Kaduna

 


NSA Dasuki, Boko Haram ‘begin talks’

For two would-be suicide bombers, it was a mission impossible yesterday in Kaduna.

•SCENE OF HORROR: People gather at the scene of the explosion in Kaduna...yesterday. Arrowed are the bodies and the motorcycle.

Their bombs went off, killing them instantly. A third victim, who was injured in the explosion, died later in the hospital, it was learnt.

Kaduna police spokesman Abubakar Balteh, a deputy superintendent who confirmed the explosion, said: “Two people were carrying an object suspected to be Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a motorbike from Singer Road, about going towards Lugard Hall Roundabout. When they got close to the NNPC filling station, the device exploded, killing the two.

“There was no other casualty. We have sent foresonic experts to the area to take evidence, which we will analyse for additional information. We are on top of the situation.”

The blast sent residents of the area scampering for safety.

Eye witnesses, told The Nation that the men carrying the object, which looked like a television set, were heading towards Ungwan Seriki, but it exploded before they got to their destination, which was not immediately known. The House of Assembly is located a few metres from the scene.

A military check point and one of the biggest mosques in Kaduna are about one kilometre from the scene.

The mosque was said to be hosting the final round of the Tasfir (lecture) normally carried out during Ramadan.

The explosion occurred about 3.00pm, opposite the Ali Akilu Road branch of Sterling Bank.

Unconfirmed reports said a third person, who was driving behind the two people carrying the IED, had his stomach ripped open and later died at the 44 Army Reference Hospital.

A swam of bees invaded the area immediately after the explosion, forcing onlookers to cut leaves to ward off the bees while security operatives shot canisters of tear gas.

Many people, including journalists that went to the scene, were stung by the bees.

An eye witness,  Fatima Yakubu, said she was passing by when she heard the blast and ran there only to see the three victims lying on the ground, not far away from some motorcycles, affected by the explosion.

“I was coming from the house going to plait my hair when I heard the sound. I thought it was gunshot; then, I saw the three of them (victims) and three motorcycles. They were all lying on the ground. Two of them were dead; one of them was still moving. Then the bees spread around and started stinging people.”

Another eyewitness, Rita James, said she and her sister were indoors when they heard the sound of the explosion and ran out to see what made the sound and they saw the three victims and their motorcycles, destroyed by the explosion.

“We heard a very loud sound. We were scared and ran out to see what caused the sound only to see the three victims, two dead and one alive and three motorcycles. The police did not come on time, but they later cordoned off the road,” Rita said.

Another eyewitness, Alhaji Abubakar Jibrin, who sells cars close, the scene of the explosion said: “We were sitting here when we saw three persons on different motorcycles and suddenly we had a very loud explosion. The sound caused serious confusion and we quickly took our vehicles inside despite the thick smoke that filled the air.

“The next thing we saw were two dead bodies and the third one was crying for help. Another Okada man opted to help him, but we prevented him. When the smoke subsided, we saw only two bodies and three motorcycles. Nobody can say what happened to the third person.

“When somebody crossed from the other side to help the third person we stopped him, we told him how can you help somebody who wants to kill innocent people? So he left, but we cannot say how he left. Even the third person that was crying for help, we cannot say precisely how he disappeared.

“They were heading towards Kawo, but where precisely, we cannot say. But certainly their destination may not be far from here for it to have exploded in that manner.

“Although we suffered serious attack from bees which have been living on those poles for over ten years, the sound of the explosion scattered them and they stung us seriously while trying to take our vehicles inside for fear of another explosion. It was difficult for the soldiers and policemen who came to the scene to have access to the place because of the bees.

Another eye witness who identified himself as Ahmed Yusuf said: “We saw one of the men on Okada carrying something that looks like a television set on the carrier of the motorcycle which exploded all of a sudden.

“One of the persons on one of the motorcycles was crying for help and we wanted to help him when all of a sudden, the bees drove us back.

Benedict Obadiah said he came to the bank to withdraw money and as he was about driving out, he heard a loud sound and a thick smoke which prevented him from driving out.

The Federal Government has reopened talks with militant group Boko Haram,  the sect which is behind the state of bombings and killings in the North, it was learnt yesterday.

An earlier attempt of third party talks between the sect and the government, which was brokered by National President of the Supreme Council for Sharia’ah in Nigeria, Dr. Datti Ahmad, broke down as soon as it started.

Ahmad claims that the talks, which were meant to be secret, were exposed to the media by government officials.

President Goodluck Jonathan has consistently called on the group to give a face not to remain faceless but to come forward to put its  grievances on the table.

Yesterday, a purported spokesman for the group said it had begun talks with the government to end violence in the North.

In a statement obtained by Voice of America (VOA), Habu Mohammed, who claims to be a deputy to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, said the group decided to initiate the peace moves in response to public appeals for peace in the country. The statement, VOA said, was given to it in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

It did not provide additional details.

The Islamic militant group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, including church bombings and the bombing of a United Nations building and the police headquarters in Abuja. The group has also threatened media organisations.

It could not be confirmed yesterday who Mohammed is as he had neither spoken on behalf of the group nor issued a statement.

Vice-President Namadi Sambo was in Mecca to observe the lesser Hajj where the Boko Haram statement was reportedly made available to VOA.

But the statement’s at variance with the position expressed by Shekau in a You tube post last month in which he foreclosed further dialogue with the government.

Thereafter, there was the attack on a Deeper Christian Life Church in Okene in which 20 worshippers were shot dead during a Bible Study class. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for shooting.

No government official was willing to comment on the talks yesterday.

But a source said National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki had opened talks with Boko Haram leaders as a way of finding solutions to the insecurity in the country.

Details are under wraps, however.

A source said the talks started a few weeks ago but nobody was ready to say where the two parties met.

The source said: “The NSA has met with Boko Haram leaders, but you cannot have the details now. These sessions were meant to appease the leaders of the sect and give insight into their grievances.

“All I can tell you is that the signs so far are positive. We are hopeful that the two parties can come to the roundtable for dialogue.”

Asked who the NSA had talks with, the source said: “I won’t mention any name but they are leaders of the sect. It is when the whole issue is finally resolved that we can tell you how the peace deal was sealed.”

 

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